BY JOHN McLOONE
It’s Christmas – start acting like it!
We’re officially in the Christmas season, so let’s start thinking a little more about how we can be good to each other.
I’m not a fan of any kind of censorship. My career is granted freedom others aren’t, right there in the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.
That said, I’m going to exercise my freedom by pleading with some of you to think of what you say – or type – and how it would hurt others.
Social media is fun. Who doesn’t like to catch up with friends once or twice a day and see the neat things their families are doing. I don’t mind seeing pictures of people’s dinners. Show me more pictures of your puppies and perhaps less of your cats! If you’re a cat person, I know I can just move along. I don’t have to post my true feelings on these creatures. I’d probably actually like them, but I’m highly allergic to cats.
Social media also has become a dangerous place. There are people I consider keyboard tough guys. They’re the same people who probably picked on kids at recess in grade school. Now, they devote their time and waste their energy on making people’s days worse on social media.
I love the fact that we have all kind of political views in America. Some of us are Republicans, some are Democrats, some have other ideologies. It’s all OK. If you feel the need to post a meme on Facebook declaring your political views, keep in mind its genesis was probably in Russia or China, where people like you are the tools they’re using to try to divide America.
There are some people who take to social media just to attack. I know it firsthand. I have daughters whose political beliefs I don’t fully agree with. I support their right to have their views. One daughter let hers known last year on Facebook. A keyboard bully in a neighboring town picked up on it and announced that this was the daughter of the newspaper publisher saying this stuff. The keyboard bullies worked to one-up each other to the point where actual threats were made. A black pickup truck spun its wheels a couple times in my driveway. One good thing came of it: I put cameras up at my home and stopped someone from trying to burglarize it when I was out of town at my mother’s funeral earlier this year.
But a lot of bad came from it. I’m sure my daughter learned a valuable lesson about what a cesspool Facebook can be. And maybe the keyboard bully who started it learned a lesson by being visited by the police for her role in almost inciting violence.
We have one situation at our small group of hometown papers where a keyboard bully oversees what he terms as a community page and likes to criticize our content and promote other news sources, leaving out the fact that he has a promotion arrangement with that out-of-state website. If we respond to his comments – or stand up to the bully – his keystrokes disappear. He takes down the post and it is promptly removed. Sometimes you have to stand up to bullies of all kinds. I learned that in grade school when I was the kid who couldn’t see as well as other kids, and I experience it now, with people tapping away on their phones in an effort to hurt others.
There’s no reason ever to say things that could be hurtful to others. There’s no reason to fan flames to get someone else to do that either. Let’s not, as a community, allow it to happen anymore. It’s Christmas. Let’s start acting like it.